Gelo Hall Passes At The Age Of 88

GeloHallWhen Howard Gordon “Gelo” Hall was 11, he had one of the greatest experiences of his life. His dad, Howard, a jockey’s valet who worked at Pimlico Race Course, took him to see the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. It was 1938 and that race was a spectacle he would always remember.

It also was the beginning of his lifelong love affair with thoroughbred racing, a fascination that lasted until his death. Hall passed away suddenly on Dec. 10, 2015, due to a hemorrhage following a recent fall at his Windsor Mill home.

“My dad had two things he believed in deeply,” Gelo’s daughter Janis says. “The track and God, the family came after them.  He loved the racetrack.”

At age 14, Gelo went to work for H.L. Straus in Reisterstown breaking horses. From there it was on to Pimlico where he went to work for Frank “Downey” Bonsal. It was just the beginning. He would get his nickname there, while working with his older brother Angelo.  Angelo was known as “Big Gelo” and he was known as “Little Gelo.”

“When my uncle left the track, Dad became Gelo and it just stuck forever,” Janis Hall says. “Dad must have been about 14 or so then. I think more people know him as Gelo than anything else. I think a lot of people don’t even know his first name.”

But over the years, it seems everyone came to know Gelo Hall.

Read more ...

December 2015 Newsletter Available

newsletter2015 11The December 2015 edition of the Horsemen's Newsletter is now online and available for download. To view this edition click herearrow

The Horsemen's Newsletter is published monthly by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and is mailed to each licensed owner and trainer in the state of Maryland.


MTHA Honors To Light Up Christmas Party

christmasparty2It will be a special night, Dec. 7, when the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association honors its best at the annual Awards Ceremony and Christmas Party at the Laurel Park Carriage Room.

The MTHA continues its 27-year tradition of honoring owner, trainer and backstretch workers-of-the-year and has added to the excitement with a lifetime achievement award and two special awards, one for unsung hero and the other for outstanding service to backstretch employees.

History will be made when Maryland Jockey Club owner Frank Stronach is celebrated as Owner of the Year.  He will be the first track owner to receive the award; Graham Motion is Trainer of the Year; and trainer King Leatherbury is the lifetime achievement honoree.

The Backstretch Workers of the Year awards go to men and women for their exemplary service to the industry behind the scenes. This year, Rigoberto “Rigo” Salazar is the Pimlico Race Course award winner and Eveline Kjelstrup receives the award for her work at Laurel Park.

The special unsung hero award goes to Joe Miller, who works for the MJC, driving the horse ambulance; and the Maryland Horsemen’s Assistance Fund honors Richard Meyer with an award for outstanding service to backstretch employees. Meyer, who recently retired, served for 26 years as the chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee.

Stronach has earned the owner award because of his support of Maryland racing on the track by sending 38 percent of his total entries to Maryland racetracks and for investing nearly $20 million toward track improvements at Laurel Park and Pimlico in 2015.

Stronach’s philosophy is centered on reinvesting in his businesses and his goal is to make horse racing at the tracks owned by The Stronach Group self-sustaining.

Read more ...

2016 Racing Calendar Expands to 157 Days

desk calendar 2016 14Remember not so long ago when racetracks in surrounding states were expanding their schedules and increasing their purses while Maryland tracks were cutting dates and struggling to compete for horses as its purse structure stagnated?

Maryland trainer Tim Keefe does. He looks around now and sees Maryland as perhaps the only racetrack in the country that isn’t pulling back as the Maryland Jockey Club works its plan toward restoring year-round racing to the state.

“I think we are the only place in the country that’s expanding,” says Keefe, president of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “For so long, we’ve always seemed to have been fighting for more dates. Now, in 2016, we have 15 more days. That’s significant because it shows we are moving in the right direction. The Stronach Group is fully committed.”

Tim Ritvo, the Stronach Groups’ chief operating officer, said he sees forward progress continuing toward the goal.

“We plan to keep going,” he says. “We want 200 days of racing . . . We’re looking to host a Breeders’ Cup one day and bring back the D.C. International. We think it is all viable if [the business] is run properly.”

The winter meet at Laurel Park will run Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, take a three-week break and then return to run March 11 through May 8.

Read more ...

November 2015 Newsletter Available

newsletter2015 11The November 2015 edition of the Horsemen's Newsletter is now online and available for download. To view this edition click herearrow

The Horsemen's Newsletter is published monthly by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and is mailed to each licensed owner and trainer in the state of Maryland.


Stronach Group Derserves Kudos for Changes

12038013 10153693928188540 8310024348959838578 nThe camera panned the apron along the front stretch at Laurel Park Race Track Saturday, Oct. 17, showing a scene more familiar in old 1911 and 1940 photographs than in modern-day horse racing. But there, on the infield’s big screen was pictured a massive crowd, from one end of the stretch to the other, enjoying the sunshine and the racing – and it wasn’t a Triple Crown race, either.

The excitement and turnout coincided with the Maryland Jockey Club’s official unveiling of $14 million in improvements, $7 million of them in the clubhouse and grandstand, at Laurel during the 30th annual Jim McKay Maryland Million Day.

“It was great,” said Tim Keefe, president of the MTHA. “I’ve watched the process, going to meetings there every Tuesday. I knew what was coming. I’ve seen the slow progress through all the remodeling. But to see it all finished, all at once, it had a big effect. It was impressive.”

Maryland Million Day celebrates and honors Maryland racing – its owners, breeders, trainers and its horses – and it turned out to be its best day ever. Attendance was up 5.5 percent to 19,119; the betting handle was up 37 percent, more than $1 million, to $3.8 million.

“I heard from all the horsemen about how much they appreciated what we’ve been doing with the renovations,” track vice president and general manager Sal Sinatra said. “It’s a reflection on all of us. We all shared in a wonderful day.”

Read more ...

Purse Release